The incident of Ferguson was spiked up a nation wide debate on the long outstanding issue of racial disparity in the Justice System of United States, involving the African American community and other minority community.
The discussions and conversations that ensued engulfed almost all facets of the American society, as accusations and counter accusations were throw back and forth; and protesters, sympathizers of protesters and non-protesters all got involved directly and indirectly with the issue.
The media, including: traditional and new media were the main conduit of exchanges.
Yet, from the moment Journalists arrived in Ferguson to report on the death to the announcement of the jury decision, the media has been bombarded by criticism of media coverage and framing of the issue.
Reportedly, outrage of media coverage was initially mostly to social media and blogs. Later, news pundits and reporters alike began to question each other’s handling of the unrest in the small Missouri town.
From the Academia, Clint Wilson, professor emeritus of communication, culture and media studies at Howard University in Washington, DC, described the media coverage as sporadic and lacls leadership when it comes to tackling racial relations in the United States. Wilson goes on to assert that progress in covering issues of race has been limited to “baby steps” that revolve around momentarily hot issues.
For Hemant Shah, director of the School of Journalism and Communication and a professor of mass media, race and ethnicity at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, media coverage needs to put into context, scrutinized for bias and examined in as many perspectives as possible its reportage.
Another person giving an opinion on the media coverage and framing of Ferguson is Bob Steele, a retired media ethicist who taught at DePauw University in Indiana and The Poynter Institute for Media Studies in Tampa, Fla.
He writes that the media’s responsibility to provide comprehensive coverage is vital, because as social media and the Internet give the public more control over the news they consume; individuals can limit their news consumption to content that validates instead of challenges their own beliefs, hence, the responsibility of the public to seek out multiple and diverse sources of information, hugely falls on the media, he noted, which should be at the forefront of discussions toward improving issues like race relations.
CALL THEM PROPOSALS OR RECOMMENDATIONS IF YOU WANT:
As a team, we agree that the media needs to be accurate and balanced in the language used during coverage, particularly conflict sensitive issue like racial relations.
The media also needs to examine, in the words of Shah, “obvious and expected story arcs for flaws,” like in the case of Ferguson, when media outlets reinforced the original news reports of the shooting and the verdict with analysis, commentary and a questioning of existing angles and facts. Such meticulous style and intensity reporting is great reporting.
We absolutely agree with Steele, that diversifying newsrooms, which include but not limited to hiring people of all colors, cultures, ages, genders and socio-economic backgrounds – is another important step. According to Steele, “the demographics of journalism have not kept pace with the increasingly diverse demographics of the American public.
Finally Great Journalism is about taking the lead to create the platform for discussion and conversations in the struggle for equality, instead of being part of the problem through bias framing.